Saron Habtemichael: educator, budding medical practitioner, and outstanding businesswoman
It’s a pretty normal day in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, but not for Saron Habtemichael. It’s never business as usual for this dynamo. Just by spending a half hour in her auspicious company, you come to realize very quickly that she is always looking to get ahead of the game in her industry and make a difference in the education world.
More than an educated decision
Saron is in the education industry, and her decision to make a career of being in it was not one that she entered into lightly. She’s one of those people who is organized and does her due diligence when it comes to any decision, especially when choosing her current career path, which she has invested a lot of time and money in.
She is currently employed as the Head of Sales and Admission Supervisor for the US, Canada, UK, and Australia at Line Addis Consultancy, but with her Nexford MBA soon to be under the belt and a desire to get ahead and stay ahead of her peers in the education industry, we know she is destined for bigger and better things.
Good things seldom come to those who wait
As we referred to earlier, Saron knows what she wants and exactly what it is going to take to get there. So, when she had the opportunity to enroll in her Nexford MBA in November 2022, she grabbed it with both hands. Of course, she did not just jump right in boots and all choosing the first university that came along. She researched who could offer the best program at the most affordable price and had a short list going when, low and behold, she got to chatting with her friend at Line Addis Consultancy, who was already learning 100% online at Nexford University. What a coincidence!
It was then that a fresh amount of desktop research was called upon because Saron had to be absolutely sure that this was the right move for her. Especially seeing as she had already started an application for a school in Germany and been accepted.
Saron looked down the lens of her laptop and philosophically told us that she was in the process of actually paying her tuition deposit and starting the enrollment process, but it didn't feel right for so many reasons. For one, the course credit was a lot, and she was also working full time. Looking at that all together, she decided that Nexford would be a better option because of the flexibility and, of course, because of the recommendation from her colleague, who is currently doing her MBA with a specialization in sustainability.
Putting time aside for the things that matter
Nelson Mandela once said that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. Wise words indeed from a wise man. She might not be a State President, but Saron also recognizes that a decent higher education is highly important and that it is not going to just fall into her lap. It’s all about hard work and determination, something that she soon came to realize when she was a pre-med student in the US studying for her bachelor's degree. Drawing on that experience, it’s not surprising that Saron runs a highly disciplined and tight ship when it comes to balancing her studies with her important job.
Of course, everyone is different when it comes to laying out a schedule and making sure that they stick to it. Saron is no different. She says, “What I normally do when it comes to my studies is use a calendar app that I have on my iPhone. But I also like doing things old-school, like manually writing down the schedule from time to time. So I have my to-do lists that I write down every Sunday for the week ahead, and I try to sync my calendar and give priority to the tasks that I have for the week.”
Saron continues to tell us that she uses one day, usually every Wednesday, where she takes a full day out from work to concentrate on her course work and assignments. Luckily, she has a very understanding boss who recognizes that by giving her that time and allowing her to improve her business acumen, the rewards will one day be there in spades as she will be able to add even more value to the business.
“Every Wednesday, I'm at home on my computer, trying to see what tasks I have,” says Saron. “I also use the Canvas app. I didn't know you could do this, but they have a feature where you can prioritize your to-do list. And it's really neat. You can cross off whatever you are done with for that assignment. As soon as you submit it, it will be removed from your tab. So I also use that.”
Taking out the positives
When asked what positives she has gotten from her MBA so far, Saron is quite pragmatic, saying that even though she is finishing her MBA at the end of January, the benefits of doing the degree have already started to show as various opportunities are starting to come to the fore in her current job.
She tells us that her employers have just recently proposed that she take over the research and development team. It’s something that she’s always wanted to do for a while but felt that she was lacking the leadership skills to do it justice. But now that she’s done with the business capstone, she feels like she doesn’t just have the knowledge to get the job done but also the confidence needed to partner with different stakeholders.
Amazingly still, in December 2023, Saron had an approach from a university in a foreign country who reached out to her through LinkedIn. And that she put down to the fact that as soon as she had completed a course, she had a badge or certificate bestowed on her that she could attach to her LinkedIn profile. This boosted her profile and her employability.
Saron’s currently in the process of securing that university job where she will be employed as their student recruitment manager. Of that new job, she says, “I've already passed three interviews and am just waiting to seal the deal. So yeah, the timing is really perfect. I've seen a lot of benefits from learning at Nexford, and I'm not just saying that for the camera; I’m seeing the benefits with my own eyes.”
Years gone by
We all have a past, and Saron tells us that she had a pretty normal upbringing in a strong nuclear family with very supportive parents, who backed her with anything she put her hand to. And she did that quite a bit.
Of her early years, Saron tells us that she was born and raised in Addis Ababa, which means new flower, and that during her childhood she was always someone who was very inquisitive.
She says, “I remember distinctively that when I was maybe eight years old, we had a garden at our home, and in that garden I used to do my own science experiments. I would cut plants and cook them up, and it made me believe that someday I was going to make a difference in the medical world.”
Saron went on to say that this passion really started to intensify during her high school career, and once she hit the 11th grade, she decided to become a medical student. That meant applying to and getting accepted to a school in Missouri, USA, called Truman State University. She spent four years there, graduating with a biology and psychology major.
But she thought to herself that becoming a medical doctor would be a very long journey, so Saron decided against it and turned her hand to working in the education industry instead. That aside, she still maintains that she does not have to be a medical doctor to make a big impact in her country and is still very passionate about health.
“When I left for the US to do my studies, I came to realize that in Ethiopia, there was a lack of medical facilities and the doctor-patient ratio was not balanced,” says Saron. “You would see a lot of people traveling from foreign countries like India, Thailand, and Turkey just to get medical treatments, and that put an enormous strain on the health sector. So I really believed that when I got back home, I would need management skills to open my own hospital. Of course, not just any random hospital, a fully equipped one.”
Starting a hospital, she hopes, will go a long way toward solving the employment rate amongst doctors. And so, in her third junior year, she did an internship at KU Medical Center in the US. There she met with different physicians, neurologists, and internists who gave her a really good understanding of how medicine works and how the healthcare system operates.
Although, as mentioned before, Saron realizes that getting into medicine will be a long-term goal and that she has to concentrate solely on what she is doing right now in the education sector, healthcare is still on the cards. That is why she is studying for her MBA at Nexford, because although she is a person with scientific skills, she wanted to learn leadership skills. So she came back home, is doing her MBA, and eventually, in a few years, hopes to open her own venture in healthcare.
One is never enough
Although Saron recognizes that her Nexford MBA is a stepping stone for future business success and will continue to open more doors for her, she is not going to just settle on that or do an MBA specialization. She has set her sights on doing a PhD in clinical psychology. Pretty high-brow stuff!
Although she is too young to be considering marriage and starting a family, Saron is extremely loving of and proud of her own family. She tells us that she has two brothers and one sister, and of course, her parents, who are very skilled business people. Her father works in real estate, and her mother works in the retail sector. As far as her brothers and sisters are concerned, her eldest brother is a very successful software engineer, working in the US for T-Mobile. The other two siblings are students at different stages of their education, but she has high hopes for them when they come to entering the business world.
Looking to the future
Although she is yet to finish her MBA and consider further studies, Saron has already set her sights on what she wants to achieve going forward.
Of those plans, she says, “There are things that I've already laid out that I want to achieve. I don't believe I will stay in Ethiopia indefinitely. For my future job, I'm still considering either the US or even European countries, but for now, home is definitely here. I love my country. But for my future job, or jobs, I think I'm probably going to have to flit between a foreign country and Ethiopia.”
All work and no play
We have already established that Saron is a committed businesswoman, but she is quick to acknowledge that if she doesn’t stop to smell the roses from time to time, she will be headed for burnout even at this early stage of her career.
She tells us, “One of my hobbies, I would say, is traveling, and when in a foreign country, I enjoy taking pictures of scenery or some beautiful architecture. But besides that, I enjoy reading books. I love cooking. I will say those are my main things, and obviously healthcare; I'm really passionate about that.”
Behind every successful woman
We all need a little inspiration to go with our perspiration when looking to succeed in life and in business. When asked the question of Saron as to who she has in the past and continues to draw inspiration from, it’s a one-horse race. It’s her family.
“I'm very lucky and blessed to have parents who understand the importance of education”, Saron says. “They instilled that in me from an early age and have been a huge support from when I can remember till now. They taught me resilience, which has meant that I have virtually achieved all that I have set out to do, and they have been in my corner encouraging me all the way, even though they never had the opportunity to learn. And someday, I'm hoping I'll be able to give them back more than what they have given me so far.”
Seeing is believing, so check out Saron’s video below or on YouTube.
Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.
Join our newsletter and be the first to receive news about our programs, events and articles.